It is exciting to welcome a new member of the family, but it can be very stressful sometimes. The picture of a parent holding a crying baby in the middle of the night and trying to lull them to sleep is too common. Unfortunately, the pattern never stops – when the child fails to sleep, the parent never sleeps.
Many parents however suffer through the problem in silence, for as long as possible – until the child outgrows the problem, which is years later. However, just because your parent had to go through it and endure in silence or frustration, it does not mean you must go through the same.
Too little amounts of sleep is risky
For the first few months after getting the newborn, you not only need sufficient amounts of sleep for your health, but also for the sake of your safety. In fact, a study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center revealed that individuals that spend less than five hours a day sleeping are more likely to be involved in sleep related crashes and road accidents by four or five times.
However, for many parents, the logic of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ may sound good in theory, but it is actually a tall order. However, there are some things you can do to increase your snooze time.
Soundproof your baby room
First, you need to build a quiet environment where your baby can sleep uninterrupted and wake up naturally. There are many ways to soundproof your baby room that are inexpensive and simple to apply. A lot of parents would love to do it; however, they do not know where to begin. So, here are some ideas.
For starters, you can simply rearrange the existing furnishing or add new pieces. The reason is the sound usually echoes the loudest in an empty space. A simple action such as filling the room with stuff is all you need to resolve this issue.
Next, you need to take care of the doors. If your budget allows you, feel free to replace the entire door. However, this may be more costly and time-consuming than you would want. If you are in such situation, try to insulate it with rigid foam insulation or similar materials instead.
Finally, the windows, they can be the eyes and the ears of a house. Old windows with gaps are not only looking unaesthetic, but they are also a major source of the noise. Here is a simple fix… Hang some thick noise-stopping curtains that will “hide” the window and reduce the noise. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of designs and colors, so they will end up looking really nice.
Lie down frequently
It is good to give yourself a break. Let go of your phone, get off your feet, and take some time to relax on your comfortable Tuft & Needle mattress or the sofa. If you cannot sleep during this time, do not stress it out. Even that half hour of just lying down can renew your strength and restore your energy levels.
When you need assistance for night feedings, do so.
One of the many reasons it is good to work with someone else that will assist you to take care of your child is because you cannot do it alone. Even if you can involve your husband, one of your relatives like a sister or mother-in-law, a babysitter, or a nanny, they can take the workload off of you for some time while you rest.
If you are bottle feeding your baby, it might be a little easier to turn the job over to someone else, but if you are breastfeeding your baby, then you can introduce a bottle of breast milk so that someone else can handle the job of taking care of the baby. Breast pumps are lifesavers for new mothers – make use of them whenever you can so that you can get some additional sleep.
The other thing to remember is that nursing mothers tend to need more sleep because they require repairs to the body’s muscles and tissue – and by this, we mean deep sleep. This is due to the hormone prolactin, a growing hormone that increases significantly in the body during lactation periods.
Keep the baby close to you
A good idea you can implement is getting a bassinet, which sits next to your bed or attaches to it. This will reduce the movements when you are waking up to soothe the baby, and you can quickly go back to sleep once the baby snoozes off.
Find activities that encourage you to sleep
After a draining day of caring for a baby, it can be understandable when you are having trouble falling asleep. It may seem even more tempting to try and relax by watching TV or sitting at your computer – however, that is also counterproductive.
The problem with these devices is that they are very stimulating, and trick the brain to not release melatonin, the hormone that encourages you to sleep. Instead, consider putting on soft music, or the radio – even putting on something you consider to be boring, and it will encourage you to go to sleep.
Be selective about your guests
Not all your gests will help you relax. There are some helpful ones, like your mother-in-law or your mother, who will try to calm you down, make you some nice meals and help you take care of the baby, while there are other visitors who do not add any value to your life – like co-workers who want to gossip about the occurrences in the office.
You do not need all these people to come visit you at this point, contrary to what you may think. In fact, the less social support you have, the better you will sleep, especially if you are a first-time mother. This is because you are under pressure to entertain everyone that comes, keeping them satisfied and happy, while you are also bound to prepare food for them.
They will only sap your energy, especially when they are expecting you to have the same levels of energy you had before you got pregnant. On the other hand, if some guests want to help you out, then you should let them.
Reduce the reliance on coffee
Even though a cup of coffee may be the key to you staying alert first thing in the morning, it may be a bad idea when you are nursing because it hides your body’s need for sleep, and it can prevent you from sleeping properly or lying down when you overdo it.
Remember that the sleepless nights are not going to last long
At the end of the day, it is exhausting trying to take care of a crying baby, especially when you are half asleep in the middle of the night. However, you are not alone. According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), a healthy baby can sleep for longer hours once they reach two or three months old, and by six months, their crankiness should be over. Just know this – it will not last forever, so you do not need to feel discouraged about it.
Taking care of a newborn baby and trying to sleep can be a tall order for you, especially when you are a new parent and trying to learn the ropes of handling your baby. However, with these tips, you will hopefully be in a better position to navigate this stage of life, and come out more experienced and better off.